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Castle Falkenstein: Babbage’s Engine
Publisher: Fat Goblin Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2017 05:48:12

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Ladies and gentlemen, gather round, as we elucidate upon this latest adventure entertainment provided for your edification by Fat Goblin Games. It covers a total of 28 pages, with a total of 4 of the pages being devoted to the paraphernalia of such tomes, thus making the totality of the content span 24 pages.

In case your undoubtedly busy schedules should have prevented you from crafting sample dramatic characters, no less than 6 of these have been provided for your immediate enjoyment. These include lavish pieces of artwork and photography and some guidance to properly depict these fine individuals of, as a whole, more or less proper breeding and education, in the entertainment to commence. These individuals are obviously presented in proper hand-out format, as well as in a form that collates the more mundane information in a few pages, as is proper: After all, the host should have an idea of the capabilities and peculiarities of the dramatic characters.

Now, obviously only the most dastardly scoundrel of questionable morale would engage in the heinous behavior of reading an adventure entertainment’s pages with the intent of participating in it as a player. However, as a reviewer, I feel it is my duty to inform hosts properly and thus, I will have to discuss the subject matter within these pages. I do strongly encourage all individuals of upright morals and proper standing to avoid reading the following. Instead, let me bid you adieu for now – we will see each other in the conclusion. Hosts, on the other hand, should very much continue reading, this section, so profanely littered with what the common man considers to be SPOILERS in today’s parlance.

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Are only hosts left at this point? Marvelous! We begin this adventure entertainment with an alphabetical list of the dramatis personae, with full ability-sets included – for the dramatic characters will have plenty of interaction opportunity as they board the Duchess Elizabeth (yep, named after Sissi, empress of hearts) on her maiden journey on the Paris-München-Wien (funnily called Paris-München-Vienna in a bit of a linguistic inconsistency) express line – propelled forward by the revolutionary, eponymous Babbage’s engine in record time; it should be noted that this adventure entertainment is for once not based on the notes of Tom Olam – and while this may sound sacrilegious to some, Grandmaster Stephen Kenson’s notes do act as a more than adequate substitution.

So, the dramatic characters are witnesses and guests of the maiden voyage of the Duchess Elizabeth and they will have a chance to prove their proper upbringing and defend Professor Reinhard from some lower class ruffians – upon doing so, they will have an easy means/hook to get aboard, in the case the host has not yet provided such an angle to pursue. The Professor’s daughter/son (gender depending on the host’s decision, as Alan/Aileen acts as a love-interest) also joins them and they explain the reason for the professor’s presence: The Automated Telegraphic Punched Card Shuffler, a device crucial to the speedy and remote operation of the eponymous babbage’s engine powering the train.

Speaking of trains – alas, it should be noted that the adventure entertainment assumes a degree of familiarity with trains of our age; neither an overview or map, nor a closer depiction is provided, as it acts only as a backdrop for the inevitable arrival of some dastardly scoundrels hell-bent on attempting to kidnap the professor…which, after a scuffle, results in the train’s entire car being stolen via the massive airship that he dastardly villain of this tale commands. Apologies, my dear hosts, for I am getting ahead of myself, failing to note that the train can act as a perfect way to introduce some of the famous individuals of our age – from Arsène Lupin to Mark Twain, there are more than a few famous individuals on board, though these colorful persons and their involvement in the proceedings to come ultimately depend on the needs of the host.

I was elaborating on the villain of this dastardly ploy, correct? Well, one Lord Anton Dire, undoubtedly of questionable breeding, lord of a tin-pot Germano-Slavic micro-nation, has managed to construct this airship, courtesy of a strange material called Radium -and he considers Babbage’s engine to be one step towards his imminent rise to power. The whole capture of the draatic characters, alas, lacks crucial freedom for the respective guests entertained; it is simply assumed that they are overwhelmed and brought into the hidden hangar of aforementioned lord – at this point, I distinctly recalled Mr. Olam telling of a series of tales of a man named “Bond”, projected in mving images, not unlike those generated by a laterna magica; the similarities are peculiar indeed, including an all but moustache-twirling villain-monologue.

The inevitable escape of the dramatic characters from the map-less base of the archfiend is, alas, once again glossed over. This can prove puzzling, to say the least, for we are living in an age of high adventure and it is hard to picture something as adventurous as climbing outside of a train car, hijacked by evil forces unknown, to bring righteous battle to the adversaries…but I digress. The escape is supposed to be relatively easy for the dramatic characters, though I do consider it to be similarly lacking in depth – while Lord Dire does adhere to at least basic premises of honorable conduct, I nevertheless found myself to be a bit flustered here: The adventure entertainment does try to justify the lack of a map for the baron’s fortress, but considering the tropes of espionage, a proper means to plan for the dramatic characters would have greatly enhanced the experience here. It is also puzzling how a lord like Dire can obviously not even contemplate dueling with dramatic characters of proper standing that demand satisfaction – the whole idea has not even briefly been touched upon.

Ultimately, the dramatic characters will have to attempt to pursue the Reinhards and the Baron onto his flying platform (which receives the proper statistics for use in the Grand Game), where the villain escapes with the younger Reinhard as hostage on an ornithopter – and potentially, an interesting chase begins, concluding this brief adventure entertainment with a well-written epilogue.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no serious issues. Layout adheres to a beautiful, elegant 2-column full-color standard and the artworks constitute a wonderfully chosen blend of period piece photography and fitting art. The electronic format sports navigation helpers, commonly referred to as bookmarks, for your convenience.

Grandmaster Stephen Kenson and Mister J Gray provide an adventure entertainment, which structurally mirrors the means of propulsion that is at the center of the proceedings depicted: To put it bluntly, this is a railroad. If an engagement of your higher faculties is what you are looking for, then I do suggest “Firearms & Margarine” instead – which, to me, is the vastly superior offering. Why? Well, this, as the pedestrians would call it, thrill-ride sprints from evocative scene to evocative scene and paints in gorgeous colors a vision that makes great use of the unique peculiarities of this gorgeous world of ours; alas, while the prose paints the proceedings of the plot in poignant highlights, the details that are expected, if we remain within the metaphor employed, remain sketches that are not filled out.

As long as the dramatic characters follow the linear structure of the plot, this works brilliantly, beautifully; however, there are plenty of times when the proposed course of action may not necessarily make sense from the dramatic character’s perspective. Here, the illusion of choice is very thin indeed and as a whole, even in the more open sections of this offering, the host will have to engage in A LOT of improvisation. To cut my lengthy and undoubtedly, sufficiently verbose analysis short: This adventure entertainment buckles under the weight of its own ideas and simply does not spend enough time and pages to adequately develop the respective scenes. As long as you can maintain a brisk pace and the dramatic characters cooperate, all’s well…but there are plenty of potential hiccups if they start tugging at the very thin curtain that’s hiding the wizard. As long as the host maintains the hasty pace, it feels like a sequence of highlights and can work as such.

All of these criticisms may not apply to some groups out there, but for me, this left me dissatisfied on a high level – with about twice the pages allotted for the details and a less breackneck pace, this could have easily went down in the annals as a true masterpiece. In its current state, however, I cannot rate this adventure higher than 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo. If your group prefers action, then you should round up as well; if you’re like me and prefer Castle Falkenstein of a more versatile, cerebral bent, then round down instead.

I bid you adieu for now, mesdames et messieurs,

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Castle Falkenstein: Babbage’s Engine
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Deadly Gardens: Swarmhive
Publisher: Rusted Iron Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/28/2017 05:46:19

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of the Deadly Gardens-series clocks in at 6 pages, 1 page front cover, 1/2 page of SRD, leaving us with 4.5 pages of content, so let's take a look!

Okay, this time around, we don't have magic items in the pdf - but there's a reason for that I'll get to later. We do get 3 natural items, though: Boggard tongues, 10 feet long, can stretch to up to 50 ft. when used as a short bungee! Sargassumm [sic!] Fiend Pheromones can produce the mirage effect of the creature and finally, swarmhearts can be used to affect the swarms of the swarmhive creature from which it was created.

My experienced readers will have probably noticed the gig by now: Swarmhive is actually a template and sports a brief table to calculate the CR of the new creature; depending on how they align, the table may increase the CR - you take the base creature and swarm and consult the table. As a minor complaint, I think this section could be a bit cleaner in how it works. I read it a couple of times before getting it. The host creature gains the augmented subtype and traits of the swarm minus the swarm or mindless traits. (As an aside, there is a "the" missing in the text here.) The base creature gains the swarm's senses and while the base creature is supposed to be a plant, a designer's note acknowledges that this is more to retain the consistency of the product line.

The swarmhive creature receives an aura that works pretty much like the swarm, with the base creature determining the aura radius. The HP of both creatures are added together and the aura's benefits are based on the respective swarm. Swarmhive creatures can vomit swarm 3/day as an extraordinary ability, with the swarm's type being equal to that of the base swarm. Problem: I have no idea how long this is supposed to last. Being Ex, this really needs a duration...without it, the creature could generate, provided the time's there, infinite swarms.

The pdf does contain a sample CR 10 sargassum fiend creature and a CR 7 shambling mound with the template applied.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are okay, but could use some more clarity; I noticed typos, rules-language hiccups and the like, sometimes to the detriment of the content. Layout adheres to Rusted Iron Games' two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports some really nice b/w-artworks by Graeme Cunningham and Christian Dragos. The pdf is fully bookmarked, in spite of its brevity - kudos!

Russ Brown's swarmhive is a cool template in concept, though its current incarnation could have used a bit more polish to really make it shine. The template is neat, but it is not that easy to use and sports a couple of typos. The pdf is inexpensive, though, and well worth checking out for the low price point. Still, I can't go higher than 3.5 stars, rounded down for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
Deadly Gardens: Swarmhive
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From the Vats
Publisher: Necrotic Gnome Productions
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/25/2017 05:04:58

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This FREE pdf (the print copy costs a measly $3.00 for at-cost printing!) clocks in at 54 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/foreword, 2 pages of SRD, leaving us with 49 pages of content – though, as most of the time for OSR-supplements, the file is formatted for a 6’’ by 9’’-standard, which means you can try to fit up to 4 pages of content on a sheet of paper when printing this. Personally, I consider the super low price for print to be well worth it – my review is mostly based on the softcover print edition of this supplement.

Okay, first things first – this is basically a compilation of community-created content inspired the phenomenal “The Complete Vivimancer”-file, penned by Gavin Norman. The basic idea of this specialist, in case you don’t want to search for my review, is that of a mad, magical scientist who uses the forces of life and bends them to their will, adding a thoroughly unique and amazing feeling to any setting that employs it – so much so that I honestly consider the amount of work that conversion requires to new-school systems be well worth it. This is very unique and cool.

Gusing aside, what can be found within this book? Well, while we begin with adventures, I will first take a look at the parts of the book that do not require a warning. These pieces of content would be, obviously, new spells – 6 are included, and all but one are penned by the author of the vivimancer, guaranteeing the crisp and precise rules-language that made me love the original…and they are damn cool. As in “Inspired me to make a whole dungeon”-level-cool. Cellular automaton lets you grow muscles and bones and brains to handle those pesky tasks and calculations: Fleshy drawbridges and elevators, brains used as icky computers – this spell alone has vast potential for exceedingly cool uses. Transmuting targets into plant matter or creating mini-me style miniature clones also rocks…and on the offensive side, two spells allow vivimancers to literally shed their skin and “pilot” it in various capacities. Yeah. Icky. Yeah, you won’t want to be caught with your pants…eh, I mean skin, down. Ben Laurence’s high-level spell is just as twisted and delightfully icky, btw.: Create Organ Golem comes in two variants – one makes a golem out of the cardiovascular system of beings (EW!), while the other kills subjects in a slow (but hey, totally humane and painless!) procedure, fusing their nervous systems into a golem that’s growing out of their skulls as the bodies wither. Yes, SUPER-EW, but also damn amazing and really vivimancer-style amoral!

Ben Laurence has btw. also penned a significant part of the new magic items featured herein, from the deadly blackseed poison (think: thorny thing grows inside you and kills you) to flesh softener (guess what that does) and lung eels (!!), these are pretty neat indeed. Derek Holland presents a whole item-class for us, one based on the vivimancer’s spark of life spell – these items are called clothlife and come as capes, ropes, scrolls, tents, nooses…and more… Vance Atkins provides two items as well – the pretty scuttle-pot that can be commanded to create biting insects, acid, fresh water, slippery ooze or worse. In a minor complaint, rules-language is not perfect here. The vat of amphibious horrors, his second creation, can be used to spawn 4d4 creatures of one of 4 weird and delightfully strange amphibious critters, from pustule toads to bleeding caecilians.

Beyond these, the authors, as you could glean from the aforementioned golems mentioned among the spells, have also provided an array of new monsters for your perusal – 25 of them, to be precise. Here, we have transparent apparition shrimps, squirrel/cow-hybrids, ape/dog-creatures, humanoid/spider-blends, fishing elephants that can walk on water (!!), 8-legged, gigantic flying squirrels designed to carry their masters, animated muscle slime, jellyfish drawn to magic, smart hounds, blends of ash and smoke…and some really twisted things. Noah Stevens, for example, introduces the succubus crab, which can poison targets…because the species needs others to reproduce.

You fill out the grisly and practically always fatal ramifications there…Christian Sturke’s grotesque Necrohandler, a head sewn onto a hand, makes for an apt way to return a recurring villain in a…let’s say “different” capacity. Anders Hedenbjörk Lager’s body stealers even come with a complete life cycle, a quasi-undead servitor zombie-like variant spawning from being killed by them and detailed notes on the symbiosis as well as stats for different life-cycles. Special mention also to Ben Laurence’s Ctenophoric Maiden, a gorgeous beauty from the nose down…and a strange thing reminiscent of comb jellies above that…possessed of an unnatural intellect, they are uncanny in a really disturbing manner. In a good way.

Now, this is where I’ll take a look at the adventure content, in all due brevity, but still – from here on reign the SPOILERS. Potential players should jump to the conclusion.

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All right, only referees around? Great!

So, the pdf provides a pretty detailed adventure seed (as in: takes up a whole page) for the use of body stealers penned by Anders Hedenbjörk Lager, which was a nice read. Alex Schröder introduces a solid one-page adventure focusing on the redoubt of a clone…

…but the big module herein, “The Submerged Spire of Sarpedon the Shaper”, penned by Ben Laurence, is by far the longest section of the pdf, with excellent cartography, no less! (Though, alas, no key-less player-friendly version of the map is included to cut up and use as hand-outs…) This adventure takes place mostly underwater and thus features simple rules for underwater adventuring with old-school systems…but frankly, I consider these to be the weakest part of this book, by far –if you have more detailed or different rules, I’d strongly suggest using them instead.

Anyway, the adventure takes place in a desolate region; contextualization for one campaign setting is included, but frankly, it should be easy to plug and play into any body of water of sufficient size, provided it sports tides)…for at low tide, at the end of crumbling steps ending in the sea, you’ll be able to see the top of a marble down atop the waves – the eponymous spire, once jewel of the shattered isles. The module proceeds to be a rather intriguing underwater exploration of a 32-location long dungeon; sans read-aloud text, but with tons of dynamics: restocking and changes of the dungeon in short- and long run are covered and the place makes for a great blending of a melancholy for ages long past that can quickly turn into horror, with a smorgasbord of vivimantic monstrosities waiting in the wings…and if they don’t manage to manipulate and/or kill the adventurers, then the roaming sahuagin war parties may do the trick…and and operating some of those twisted devices can yield potent benefits, yes…but…you know, it may first need to drill some holes in your skull to directly interface with your brain. Good news: If you survive the detaching process, you’ll grow nifty fleshy membranes over the holes after that! …Have I mentioned that I really like the vivimancer and all the delightfully twisted things that come with it? So yes, this makes for a cool way to introduce some concepts of the class…and even if you don’t use the class (WHY???), this makes for a delightful challenge.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good on a formal and rules-language level, though not as awe-inspiring as in the main-book. Layout adheres to a nice 1-column booklet-b/w-standard and the pdf actually sports really nice b/w-cartography AND some neat artworks – kudos! The map does not come with a player-friendly version, but hey, cool map for zilch! The pdf version is, annoyingly not bookmarked. But come on – the PoD is really cheap. Less than a cup of coffee in many places!

Gavin Norman, Vance Atkins, Seana Davidson, Kelvin Green, Matt Hildenbrand, Derek Holland, Anders Hedenbjörk Lager, Ben Laurence, Gavin Norman, Alex Schröder, Noah Stevens, Christian Sturke and Michael Wenman have created one of my favorite FREE books out there. I mean it. This is a labor of love and it shows – it was penned by people that get what makes the vivimancer cool and delightfully creepy.

We have a great expansion on our hands here, and while not absolutely perfect, I can spend hours upon hours recounting adventures, spells, magic items and monsters that are significantly less imaginative and cost a heck lot more than NOTHING…or even the very, very fair PoD-price. This is a great offering, a must-have for fans of the vivimancer (though it is a bit more explicit in tone here and there than the original book) and generally a great expansion that makes me realize how much more vivimancer material I actually want. I mean, how often does a single spell inspire you to design a whole dungeon? Yeah, thought so. This is, in short, a really cool offering for an unbeatable price – and well worth 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
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Vigilantes of Horror
Publisher: Purple Duck Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/25/2017 05:02:52

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This installment of class-options in Purple Duck Games series clocks in at 18 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 15 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

So, first of all – all archetypes herein share a certain leitmotif, namely that they employ the classic Jekyll/Hyde dichotomy, classifying the vigilante identity as something monstrous; as this transformation is more than the application of make-up etc., e.g. hats of disguise (not properly italicized, in a nitpick – as a whole, I noticed a few instances of spell references etc. that should be italicized) do not hasten the procedure; the monstrous vigilante identity may not be good and as such, a good character changing into it must succeed a Will-save, mirroring to a degree Jekyll’s struggle. This holds true for all vigilantes of horror and thus, this modification of Dual Identity precedes the following archetypes.

All righty, so what do the archetypes offer? The corpseborn, basically the Frankenstein#s monster-equivalent, replaces vigilante specialization with jolting nerves, usable 1/day +1/day at every odd level thereafter. This makes his eyes glow and allows for the addition of 3 + character level (oddly, not class level) on any one d20 roll as an immediate action. This should imho be tied to class levels and sport a proper bonus type– RAW, the massive boost is very dippable. 2nd level makes the character count as Large for the purposes of Intimidate and combat maneuver checks instead of that level’s vigilante talent and 6th level provides electricity resistance 5, which increases by +5 every 6 levels thereafter, replacing 6th level’s vigilante talent. 12th level’s vigilante talent is replaced with immunity to bleeding damage as well as +10 to Heal checks to treat the corpseborn. At 18th level, the corpseborn can execute a 1/day, potentially lethal save-or-die attack. Personally, I think massive damage would make sense instead and while I like how it is flavored, with electricity damage on a successful save, I think that immunity to electricity should probably render immune against it. On an aesthetic hiccup – the ability is called “Act of Revenge” and the internal text calls it “revenge attack” – not a bad glitch, mind you.

The second archetype herein would be the loup garou, who is moon-influenced and thus gains +2 to initiative Knowledge (geography), Perception, Stealth and Survival, increasing the bonus +by +1 at 5th level and every 5 levels thereafter. He also treats all terrain as favored terrain while outdoors and above ground, but not submerged in water. Thankfully, this does not stack with favored terrain, but it can yield some potent combinations when interacting with abilities that only work in favored terrain. This replaces the vigilante specialization. 2nd level yields a bite, 4th claw attacks (properly codified!! YES!), both instead of vigilante talents. 6th level yields +2 to Will-saves while in vigilante identity, +1 every 6 levels thereafter. 12th level provides DR 10/silver, which increases by +5 every 4 levels thereafter and 18th level nets at-will locate creature.

The mummified replaces the specialization with entangler, which is basically a Charisma-based SP entangle with a 30 ft.-range. First, affecting only one target, + an additional target at 3rd level and every odd level thereafter. Again, I think that ought to be class levels, but I may be wrong here. 2nd level provides a +2 bonus to saves versus disease, death effects and poisons that increases by +1 at 8th level , 12th and 18th level. 6th level provides a 25% chance to ignore crits and precision damage etc., stacking with light fortification, but not heavy fortification – both of which are not italicized.12th level yields a mummy’s despair aura, usable for class level + Charisma modifier rounds per day and thankfully, with a 24-hour caveat and proper activation action– kudos there! 18th level nets a nice curse.

Podling vigilantes nets a Will-save penalizing pollen/spore aura that increases in potency at 5th level and every 5 levels after that– and thankfully comes with a means to immunize fellow adventurers. 2nd level yields a thorn body-equivalent ability, usable for class level round per day and 6th level provides at-will tree shape, with 12th level providing plant shape I, which upgrades to II and III at 14th and 16th level, respectively. 18th level yields the ability to generate low-CR plant creatures…which is pretty cool! Reeflings get increasing non-lethal bonus damage when using unarmed strikes versus grappled foes and better grappling capabilities as well as the means to carry around heavy loads unimpeded, making for a solid abductor angle. 2nd level provides swim speed equal to land speed and +4 Stealth (should be capitalized) while swimming. 6th level yields properly codified claws….that should mention that the nonlethal bonus damage can be inflicted with them – RAW, unarmed attacks =/= natural attacks. 12th level provides +1 natural armor bonus with accompanying keen armor spikes, and 18th level nets water breathing as well as deep dweller.

The vampiryst vigilante can suck blood from helpless/pinned/etc. targets to heal and/or gain temporary hit points – with a cap AND the important caveat that prevents abuse of the ability via a bag of kittens – kudos! The archetype is also extremely adept at throwing off suspicion regarding the alternate identity and is treated as undead in vigilante identity – solid modification of seamless guise.2nd level yields a properly codified bite attack and 6th level, your choice of either claw or slam attacks – properly codified, once more. 12th level yields DR 3/silver and magic and cold resistance, both of which increases at 16th and 20th level. 18th level yields beast shape II and the ability to communicate with the children of the night. Finally, the vanished may, at 2nd level, duplicate invisibility for class level + Charisma modifier rounds, but also becomes slightly insane while vanished thus, taking a -2 penalty to Will-saves. 6th level provides the character’s choice of always ghost touch, SPs or a deflection bonus to AC while invisible and 12th level upgrades the invisibility to greater invisibility, but also increases the Will-penalty. At 18th level, entering invisibility also is accompanied by a constant rage. And yes, this guy does not trade in the vigilante specialization, just fyi

This is only where the pdf starts, though: 9 social talents include undead nobility (mindless undead don’t attack you, unless commanded), gaining a willing victim (love interest, Igor… with all 10 ability scores), easier means of purchasing mundane items (though they are fragile), etc. – these are flavorful and make sense. The pdf’s main meat, apart from the aforementioned archetypes, however, would be the massive list of vigilante talents: From being able to properly yield absurd weaponry (lethal damage via non-lethal weapons, +1 damage for improvised weapons), 1/day Jason-style short-range teleport (not italicized properly…)…oh, and torturing helpless victims to deal ability damage and confuse them, aquatic adaption, vomiting acid splash, burrowing…what about corpseborn vigilantes gaining electrical spikes? Yeah, there are some gems here…but admittedly also some filler talents à la”+1 to CMD”. That being said, I absolutely ADORE the ability to 1/week choose a sensation like a smell, a sound – you know the like. All creatures within 10 miles get that sensation, subtly alerting them to your presence. While an activation action would have been nice, seeing how it is more of a NPC/flavor ability, chances are you won’t use it in battle…or would you? You see, it makes for a potent alarm-system, so yeah…activation action would have been nice: Though Su would make me assume standard, immediate would make more sense to me. Gliding capes, better grappling via tentacles/vines/bandages, better Escape Artist via temporarily taking off a limb – there are some real gems here that fit perfectly with the themes. What about adding silence to the appearance-based angles? Oh, and there would be the talent that lets you eat two types of organs from a corpse to heal ability damage or remove negative conditions…

Really neat: The pdf sports 20 sample vendettas, basically in-character goals that fit with the horror vigilante-theme. The final page is devoted to new magic items, all of which are situated in the upper power/price echelon: Coffin Armor for the discerning, traveling vampire. The noose of strangulation, a really potent killer-whip….the razor-glove of the dreamslayer (cue Freddy…) and more…these items rock and end the pdf on a high note. The pdf also comes with a bonus-file, penned by Mark Gedak, one depicting Augustus Silvermane, a CR 6 aasimar rook.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting re very good on a formal level; on a rules-language level, the pdf has a couple of hiccups and oversights, but the formatting in particular is the most inconsistent part here – both regarding italicizations and class vs. character level, there are a couple of glitches that do influence the rules-integrity of the pdf. Layout adheres to Purple Duck Games’ two-column standard and is pretty printer-friendly, with only purple highlights. The pdf has neat full-color artworks inside and comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

I am a sucker for the classic horror monsters. There, I said it. I read them all. I wrote papers about them. I GM’d Ravenloft for the better part of my adult life. As such, it should come as no surprise that I’m really, really enjoying this pdf – and if you’re like me, you’ll probably feel the same. As a GM toolkit or as a file for someone looking for a more morally ambiguous vigilante experience steeped in the classics of Gothic Horror, well, this is for you.

At the same time, one could also make a good point for Aaron hollingworth’s pdf falling short of the excellence it could have achieved – the hiccups in the rules-language do accumulate, to the point where min-maxy players can get some problematic combos out of dipping….issues that could have easily been prevented. My second gripe with the pdf would be that the vigilante talents sport some filler that made me question why it’s there in the first place – apart from min-maxing number-boosts.

That being said, the pdf does contain some gems and the aforementioned issues do not require much GM skill to handle; as a whole, this does have sufficient rules-integrity to use as written. Still, as much as I love a lot of the tricks herein, the glitches do drag this down a notch – my final verdict will hence clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded up due to in dubio pro reo – well worth checking out if you like the idea, in spite of the rough edges.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Vigilantes of Horror
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5E Mini-Dungeon #036: The Dragon Queen's Sanctuary
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/25/2017 04:59:51

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Unlike most 5E Mini-Dungeons, this one does not come with VTT-maps or player-friendly iterations, which is a bit of a bummer.

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.

...

..

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Still here?

All right!

In case you were wondering: The original PFRPG-version used an advanced scrag as a boss, while this one uses a young black dragon, hence the changed name of the mini-dungeon.

A couple of years ago, this little druidic stronghold has been overrun by a horde of trolls - now in ruins, the subterranean parts of the complex still remain - and actually manage to provide a concise exploration experience: From oozes to strange, magical rooms to track the movement of the stars - the flavor of an old magical complex is captured well, with the traps and objects complementing the flavor. History and Atheletics are actually useful for once (nice!) and not ignored in the conversion, though I do think that it's a bit of a pity that mouldy hazards have not been translated. The boss tactics deserve special mention: Attacking from a pool of putrid water and with an actually effective flight plan, taking care of the BBEG of this mini-dungeon is trickier than one would expect...as she escapes in another pool, which is connected to a secret part of the dungeon! Knowledge skills, just fyi, help filling the blanks the PCs may potentially have and yes, the terrain actually is relevant in this one. That being said, Kyle Crider's dragon substitution does make the boss fight slightly less unique than in the original.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good, I noticed no significant glitches. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. It should be noted that here, I have seen the artwork before in another context, but to make up for that, the map's more beautiful and detailed than usual, which is actually a plus for me.

Jonathan Ely's venture to the "scrag"...äh, pardon, "dragon" queen's sanctuary is a fun, inexpensive sidetrek that sports atmosphere, a challenging boss and thematically fitting obstacles. The original mainly excelled via the virtue of the unique boss and, alas, this fascination is somewhat lost in the 5E-version - why not use cool lair tricks here? How to rate this, then? Well...I do think that this conversion loses the unique boss of the original, which is a bit of a bummer. What remains is a nice, module, sure, but also one that could have gone one step further. Solid work, 4 stars.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #036: The Dragon Queen's Sanctuary
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5E Mini-Dungeon #035: The Queen's Estuary
Publisher: AAW Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/25/2017 04:58:57

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This pdf clocks in at 2 pages and is a mini-dungeon. This means we get 2 pages content, including a solid map and all item/monster-stats hyperlinked and thus, absent from the pdf, with only deviations from the statblocks being noted for the GM. Unlike most 5E Mini-Dungeons, this one does not come with VTT-maps or player-friendly iterations, which is a bit of a bummer.

Since this product line's goal is providing short diversions, side-quest dungeons etc., I will not expect mind-shattering revelations, massive plots or particularly smart or detailed depictions, instead tackling the line for what it is. Got that? Great!

This being an adventure-review, the following contains SPOILERS. Potential players may wish to jump to the conclusion.

...

..

.

Still here?

All right!

It's a marvelous day in the forest; the birds are chirping and all's well...whether by accident or intentionally looking for it ( an adventurer vanished in these parts...), the PCs will notice a branch in the path...and if they investigate, they'll meet a nasty pit trap...and see a campfire burning outside a simple hut, right next to a gorgeous pond....though that one's inhabited by a water elemental. Nearby, there's a stone statue...of the queen of a local swarm of none-too-calm sprites. Why? Well, a hag and her hell-hound have turned the queen of the sprites to stone and now, the sprites want the PCs to undo the harm. Of course, they may have already done that, if they ran into the hag before, for she offers them food that briefly poisons the PCs: No save. No actual poison damage...not a big fan here.

If, however, they attack the sprites, they'll have a harder time getting to the treasure they offer...for that is guarded by animated bushes and trees...

The big loot of this module would be a pearl of power, just fyi!

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are good. Layout adheres to a beautiful 2-column full-color standard and the pdf comes sans bookmarks, but needs none at this length. Cartography is full color and surprisingly good for such an inexpensive pdf, but there is no key-less version of the map to print out and hand to your players. The pdf does sport one nice piece of original full-color art - kudos!

It should also be noted that the pdf offers some nice read-aloud text for GMs less adept at improvising text. Rachel Ventura's "Queen's Estuary" is a solid on-the-road sidetrek. It is somewhat unspectacular, but thematically concise and thus can be considered to be a solid, if not perfect addition to the series. Skill-wise, the pdf is a bit on the weak side and Kyle Crider's conversion, while solid, doesn't offer an upgrade here either. The villain, usually a creature known from subterfuge, somewhat is restricted by the limited space available, making the villain frankly less effective than usual for the creature. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 3.5 stars, rounded down.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[3 of 5 Stars!]
5E Mini-Dungeon #035: The Queen's Estuary
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Tides of War: Bard/X Feats
Publisher: Flying Pincushion Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/24/2017 04:19:59

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This collection of multiclass-feats for bard-multiclasses clocks in at 6 ages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page SRD, leaving us with 3 pages, so let’s take a look!

This was moved up in my review-queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

All righty, after a brief introduction, we go through the feats alphabetically – you know the drill!

-Acting Over Action: Extra Performance is added to the list of bonus feats; alternatively, you can learn a bardic masterpiece you meet the prereqs instead.

-Bursting With Knowledge: Levels from a Knowledge (all) class skill class stack with bard levels for bardic knowledge.

-Cantrip Conversion: You reduce your bard cantrip array, but may convert a bard cantrip towards one of the other class when preparing spells. Interesting.

-Competent Precision: When using inspire competence, you can elect to expend twice the number of bardic performance rounds; if you do, an ally within 30 ft. targeted gains your sneak attack, while you lose it for that duration. This is amazing. Big time.

-Inspired Hymn: Designate smite target and start inspire courage higher; if the smite target is evil, treat the performance benefits as +5 higher. Neat.

-Inspiring Beatdown: When using a flurry (monk’s or brawler’s) while maintaining a bardic performance, you can spend 2 performance rounds as a swift action and make an easy Perform (Percussion) check – on a success, you increase the performance’s benefits as though your levels is +5 higher for 1 round. Nice!

-Musical Implement: When using an implement instrument while maintaining a bardic performance, the implement school spells are at CL +1. Mechanically simple, but makes SO MUCH SENSE. Oh yes, my violin’s haunted…

-Partners in Harmony: As a full-round action, have both you and linked companion (phantom, eidolon, animal companion, etc.) start a performance, provided the companion has Perform. Level of the performance increases by +5, but you consume twice the bardic performance rounds.

-Practiced Appel: Increases save DC of performances and penalty duration of performances and masterpieces versus favored enemies.

-Talent Show: 2/day, spend 4 rounds of performance to gain an increment of a talents-usage – these include kineticist talents, ninja tricks, alchemist discoveries, etc. and kineticist talents still cost burn and it only works for talents that work in increments of rounds and minutes – no cheese. Wide open…yet works. Nice.

-You Must be Mistaken: Once per 72 hours, as an immediate action, you can spend any number of bardic performance and make a Charisma check upon violating your order’s tenets – you get +1 to the check per round spent. On a success, you are treated as though you have not violated your edicts.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I noticed no hiccups on a formal or rules-language level. Layout adheres to a two-column full-color standard with thematically-fitting stock art. The pdf even has bookmarks, in spite of its brevity.

David S. McCrae delivers big time here – these could have been boring combo/hybrid-y mix-feats – instead, he has elected to go the extra mile and instead do something creative, unique with each of these feats, all while staying concise and precise. Being literally all killer, no filler, this humble supplement provides some seriously nice tactics for musically-inclined characters. Add to that the low asking-price and we have a great file, well worth of 5 stars + seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Tides of War: Bard/X Feats
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GM's Miscellany: I Loot the Body (SNE)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/24/2017 04:18:46

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This compilation of the „I Loot the Body!”-series (easily one of my favorite series-titles ever) clocks in at 56 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/how to use, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 49 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

Note: This is almost identical to the “PFRPG”-version with the black cover – which is almost system neutral. However, this system-neutral version did obviously get some polish – a couple of entries have been streamlined, references to specific languages have been made more general – you get the idea.

We begin this compilation with a helpful reminder/summary of how one can use treasure – foreshadowing, abilities, etc. – this is a handy reminder to bear in mind, for sure – but more importantly, it contextualizes the material presented within this book: We all have read supplement upon supplement, where those critters that the PCs mow down by the dozens all end up having a bit of gold…and then suddenly, something weird pops up. It’s like having a hotspot in a point and click adventure. While authors are beholden to the almighty word-count and thus, system-immanently reliant on such simplifications, I know of a lot of GMs who really, really are annoyed by this.

This humble series, this booklet, radically ENDS this phenomenon once and for all. You loot something? You’ll find weird and personal knick-knacks basically EVERYWHERE. This not only makes the cursed trinket you successfully smuggled into the possession of the party harder to spot, it also vastly enhances the believability of the campaign world you so lavishly depict in your game – in short, it represents a huge immersion boost, even if the items are not (or only slightly) magical.

More than that, fetishes, strange objects, keys, mementos and artworks can represent hooks and pieces of indirect storytelling themselves, potentially sparing you the annoying exposition dumps some GMs find themselves heaping upon their players; in short, the trinkets let the PCs do the thinking, talking, discussing -and if you listen, you may well draw some serious inspiration from the speculation going on – I know that’s how I’ve improvised more than one module when I didn’t have the time to prepare.

Anyways, as you may have surmised at this point, this book contains the individual components of the “I loot the Body!”-series: Namely, the eponymous original pdf, the installments on looting clerics, druids, rogues, minions, warriors and wizards as well as the installment on looting bags of holding – basically all the big installments, presented in alphabetical order. Now I have written reviews for all of them, so if you require detailed guidance, I’ll point you to those.

In case you do not want to look them up: The review situates all of these files in the high and highest echelons of my rating system – Raging Swan press provides a nice diversity between the mundane and weird in these extensive tables. We generally have tables for outfits, class-specific knick-knacks and pouch-contents –all modified for the respective needs. Minions get a keepsake table, druids natural accoutrements – you get the idea.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I did not notice any undue accumulation of hiccups and the obvious added care in fine-tuning the tables deserves special recognition. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports a wide-variety of thematically-fitting b/w-artwork, though fans of Raging Swan Press will be familiar with some pieces. The pdf version does come in two iterations: One optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer – big kudos! Beyond that, the pdfs do come with excessive bookmarks, helping you to navigate to the proper table with a single click.

Kat Evans, Taylor Hubler, Eric Hindley, Josh Vogt and Mike Welham have created great individual files, no doubt; but much like in the fantastic GM’s Miscellany Dungeon Dressing and Wilderness Dressing books, having all the pieces in one hand tome simply beats the sheets of individual paper. Flip it open, roll, and never look back; never experience boring “mundane” treasure again! Now, it should be noted that these tables are not for specific creatures or contexts – they provide loot for pretty wide categories, so if you’re looking for the hyper-specific, well, you won’t find that here. If you do look for an inspiring book that will increase your GM-prowess, though, then get this! In fact, I’d advise in favor of the print version, just for the convenience of it and the sheer satisfaction of having this booklet open while gaming.

Now, as for the question of which of the two-versions to get, well the system-neutral version imho has a couple of wording choices that are a bit more elegant than the PFRPG-version, mainly due to completely avoiding the rules-aspect, so for prose, this may be preferable. For convenience, the black version should do it (and it has the prettier cover) – but no matter what fantasy system you’re using, one of the books definitely makes for a great addition to the game and both versions can work for pretty much all systems.

In short: This is a really great, system neutral tome of cool dressing, well worth getting. My final verdict thus clocks in at 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation. The only reason I’m not also slapping my EZG Essential-tag on this great dressing booklet would be its brevity – if it featured a smattering of all the small tables for more specific looting as well, this’d be even more non-optional than it already is. A great GM-tool indeed.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: I Loot the Body (SNE)
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Publisher Reply:
Thank you for the great review. I'm delighted you enjoyed the book so much!
GM's Miscellany: I Loot the Body
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/24/2017 04:15:49

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This compilation of the „I Loot the Body!”-series (easily one of my favorite series-titles ever) clocks in at 56 pages, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC/how to use, 1 page SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with 49 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

We begin this compilation with a helpful reminder/summary of how one can use treasure – foreshadowing, abilities, etc. – this is a handy reminder to bear in mind, for sure – but more importantly, it contextualizes the material presented within this book: We all have read supplement upon supplement, where those critters that the PCs mow down by the dozens all end up having a bit of gold…and then suddenly, something weird pops up. It’s like having a hotspot in a point and click adventure. While authors are beholden to the almighty word-count and thus, system-immanently reliant on such simplifications, I know of a lot of GMs who really, really are annoyed by this.

This humble series, this booklet, radically ENDS this phenomenon once and for all. You loot something? You’ll find weird and personal knick-knacks basically EVERYWHERE. This not only makes the cursed trinket you successfully smuggled into the possession of the party harder to spot, it also vastly enhances the believability of the campaign world you so lavishly depict in your game – in short, it represents a huge immersion boost, even if the items are not (or only slightly) magical.

More than that, fetishes, strange objects, keys, mementos and artworks can represent hooks and pieces of indirect storytelling themselves, potentially sparing you the annoying exposition dumps some GMs find themselves heaping upon their players; in short, the trinkets let the PCs do the thinking, talking, discussing -and if you listen, you may well draw some serious inspiration from the speculation going on – I know that’s how I’ve improvised more than one module when I didn’t have the time to prepare.

Anyways, as you may have surmised at this point, this book contains the individual components of the “I loot the Body!”-series: Namely, the eponymous original pdf, the installments on looting clerics, druids, rogues, minions, warriors and wizards as well as the installment on looting bags of holding – basically all the big installments, presented in alphabetical order. Now, I have written reviews for all of them, so if you require detailed guidance, I’ll point you to those.

In case you do not want to look them up: The review situates all of these files in the high and highest echelons of my rating system – Raging Swan press provides a nice diversity between the mundane and weird in these extensive tables. We generally have tables for outfits, class-specific knick-knacks and pouch-contents –all modified for the respective needs. Minions get a keepsake table,, druids natural accoutrements – you get the idea.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, I did not notice any undue accumulation of hiccups. Layout adheres to raging Swan Press’ two-column b/w-standard and the pdf sports a wide-variety of thematically-fitting b/w-artwork, though fans of Raging Swan Press will be familiar with some pieces. The pdf version does come in two iterations: One optimized for screen-use and one optimized for the printer – big kudos! Beyond that, the pdfs do come with excessive bookmarks, helping you to navigate to the proper table with a single click.

Kat Evans, Taylor Hubler, Eric Hindley, Josh Vogt and Mike Welham have created great individual files, no doubt; but much like in the fantastic GM’s Miscellany Dungeon Dressing and Wilderness Dressing books, having all the pieces in one hand tome simply beats the sheets of individual paper. Flip it open, roll, and never look back; never experience boring “mundane” treasure again! Now, it should be noted that these tables are not for specific creatures or contexts – they provide loot for pretty wide categories, so if you’re looking for the hyper-specific, well, you won’t find that here. If you do look for an inspiring book that will increase your GM-prowess, though, then get this! In fact, I’d advise in favor of the print version, just for the convenience of it and the sheer satisfaction of having this booklet open while gaming.

In short: This is a really great, basically system neutral tome of cool dressing, well worth getting. My final verdict thus clocks in at 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation. The only reason I’m not also slapping my EZG Essential-tag on this great dressing booklet would be its brevity – if it featured a smattering of all the small tables for more specific looting as well, this’d be even more non-optional than it already is. A great GM-tool indeed.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: I Loot the Body
Click to show product description

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Publisher Reply:
In short: This is a really great, system neutral tome of cool dressing, well worth getting. My final verdict thus clocks in at 5 stars + seal of approval, given sans hesitation.
Echelon Reference Series: Cleric/Oracle Spells Compiled (3pp+PRD) [BUNDLE]
Publisher: Echelon Game Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2017 04:18:31

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Okay, this massive reference-TOME clocks in at 580 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 9 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a staggering 566 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

So, first things first – this is a reference work and I will rate it as such; it also represents a compilation of spells for the cleric/oracle classes and as such, there are constituent files for the respective spell-levels available, in case this colossal compilation breaks your bank.

As you may have gleaned from the title, this book not only contains the PRD spells, but also contains a vast array of 3pp spells from a wide variety of different sources, making this one of the most massive comprehensive spell-sources you’re likely to find anywhere. It should also be noted that the warpriest, employing the cleric spell-list, is mentioned and explained in the beginning.

Now it would take me ages to analyze all spells contained in this massive tome – and it’d be redundant, considering the sheer amount of options I have already reviewed for PFRPG. And frankly, it would not do the book justice. Instead, I will focus on the organizational paradigms employed herein and how actually useful this massive compilation is.

The first thing you’ll note will be the presentation: The pdf actually openly explains how the different iteration of a given book are assembled – from “RAF” (Rough and fast) to WIP and final, the pdf is open with ho its pricing etc. works, also for bundles. From a customer perspective, including this information, while something rarely seen, is very fair and deserves applause.

Now, if you have access to a wide variety of sources (or employ various books from different publishers in the compilation), there is bound to be some redundancy – this pdf freely and openly acknowledges this and explains it via the example of competing Extra Challenge(s) feats. To make the identification of such instances simpler, the book establishes name/company initials as a means of differentiating between such instances. If an element has been superseded, the newer version is kept, the older dropped and ultimately, the PRD takes precedence over competing iterations.

After explaining the basic spellcasting proceedings for the cleric, oracle and warpriest classes, including spells per day tables, we move on to the spell-list. Each individual spell sports the brownish bubble-header and sports a bubble-like line to encompass the rules-text of the spell, making it evident at one glance where a spell begins and the next ends.

But let’s take a step back and look at the organization of the spell-list: First, spells are organized by school; Abjuration, Conjuration, etc. – within each school, they are depicted in alphabetical order. There is something even more important to the spell-list, though: The document is internally hyperlinked. You click on a spells and poof, you’re there. This organization not only helps to find and compile spells to make specialists, the hyperlinking makes the use of this colossal tome actually pretty comfortable – more so than I would have imagined.

The full versions of the spells are organized differently – they once again are organized by spell level, so we have all orisons first, then all 1st-level spells – you get the idea. Within each such spell-level section, the spells have been organized in alphabetical order. “But endy,” you say, “What if I know the NAME (or a part thereof, like “accursed”) of the spell, but not the level??” Well, the pdf has you covered there as well: 19 massive pages of this book are devoted to a meticulously crafted index, a must-have for books of this size.

In case you were wondering – yes, both the spell list AND the index actually note the respective 3pp-abreviations in their headers, meaning you won’t have to do guess-work there either. In short: The organization of these spells is pretty impressive and the book, as a whole, makes using vast amounts of spells so much simpler.

In short: The organization is sensible, concise and well-made – this says exactly what it does on the tin.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, but more importantly, the organizational paradigms employed make sense. Layout adheres to a functional, efficient two-column standard with brown bubbles and hyperlinks in blue – as a whole, this should not empty the ink/toner. The pdf has bookmarks for each of the spell-levels (but not by letters). The index is exhaustive and really helpful, and so is the internal hyperlinking.

Keith Davies’ massive spell-compilation is really, really helpful – its organization is great and it covers a metric ton of spells; how redundancy, if any, is handled, deserves a big plus; similarly, if you’re not allowing material from a specific publisher, you’ll be able to tell at a glance. All of these are big plusses, as far as I’m concerned.

There is one thing I was missing from an organization point of view, but that may be me. I would have enjoyed a list of spells by [descriptor] as well – you know, when you’re planning for a campaign, try to make a thematic specialist, etc. It’s a minor thing, but with it, this would pretty much have covered all I could have asked of it. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series: Cleric/Oracle Spells Compiled (3pp+PRD) [BUNDLE]
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Echelon Reference Series: Cleric/Oracle Spells Compiled (3pp+PRD)
Publisher: Echelon Game Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2017 04:16:11

An Endzeitgeist.com review

Okay, this massive reference-TOME clocks in at 580 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page blank, 1 page editorial, 1 page ToC, 9 pages of SRD, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a staggering 566 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

So, first things first – this is a reference work and I will rate it as such; it also represents a compilation of spells for the cleric/oracle classes and as such, there are constituent files for the respective spell-levels available, in case this colossal compilation breaks your bank.

As you may have gleaned from the title, this book not only contains the PRD spells, but also contains a vast array of 3pp spells from a wide variety of different sources, making this one of the most massive comprehensive spell-sources you’re likely to find anywhere. It should also be noted that the warpriest, employing the cleric spell-list, is mentioned and explained in the beginning.

Now it would take me ages to analyze all spells contained in this massive tome – and it’d be redundant, considering the sheer amount of options I have already reviewed for PFRPG. And frankly, it would not do the book justice. Instead, I will focus on the organizational paradigms employed herein and how actually useful this massive compilation is.

The first thing you’ll note will be the presentation: The pdf actually openly explains how the different iteration of a given book are assembled – from “RAF” (Rough and fast) to WIP and final, the pdf is open with ho its pricing etc. works, also for bundles. From a customer perspective, including this information, while something rarely seen, is very fair and deserves applause.

Now, if you have access to a wide variety of sources (or employ various books from different publishers in the compilation), there is bound to be some redundancy – this pdf freely and openly acknowledges this and explains it via the example of competing Extra Challenge(s) feats. To make the identification of such instances simpler, the book establishes name/company initials as a means of differentiating between such instances. If an element has been superseded, the newer version is kept, the older dropped and ultimately, the PRD takes precedence over competing iterations.

After explaining the basic spellcasting proceedings for the cleric, oracle and warpriest classes, including spells per day tables, we move on to the spell-list. Each individual spell sports the brownish bubble-header and sports a bubble-like line to encompass the rules-text of the spell, making it evident at one glance where a spell begins and the next ends.

But let’s take a step back and look at the organization of the spell-list: First, spells are organized by school; Abjuration, Conjuration, etc. – within each school, they are depicted in alphabetical order. There is something even more important to the spell-list, though: The document is internally hyperlinked. You click on a spells and poof, you’re there. This organization not only helps to find and compile spells to make specialists, the hyperlinking makes the use of this colossal tome actually pretty comfortable – more so than I would have imagined.

The full versions of the spells are organized differently – they once again are organized by spell level, so we have all orisons first, then all 1st-level spells – you get the idea. Within each such spell-level section, the spells have been organized in alphabetical order. “But endy,” you say, “What if I know the NAME (or a part thereof, like “accursed”) of the spell, but not the level??” Well, the pdf has you covered there as well: 19 massive pages of this book are devoted to a meticulously crafted index, a must-have for books of this size.

In case you were wondering – yes, both the spell list AND the index actually note the respective 3pp-abreviations in their headers, meaning you won’t have to do guess-work there either. In short: The organization of these spells is pretty impressive and the book, as a whole, makes using vast amounts of spells so much simpler.

In short: The organization is sensible, concise and well-made – this says exactly what it does on the tin.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are top-notch, but more importantly, the organizational paradigms employed make sense. Layout adheres to a functional, efficient two-column standard with brown bubbles and hyperlinks in blue – as a whole, this should not empty the ink/toner. The pdf has bookmarks for each of the spell-levels (but not by letters). The index is exhaustive and really helpful, and so is the internal hyperlinking.

Keith Davies’ massive spell-compilation is really, really helpful – its organization is great and it covers a metric ton of spells; how redundancy, if any, is handled, deserves a big plus; similarly, if you’re not allowing material from a specific publisher, you’ll be able to tell at a glance. All of these are big plusses, as far as I’m concerned.

There is one thing I was missing from an organization point of view, but that may be me. I would have enjoyed a list of spells by [descriptor] as well – you know, when you’re planning for a campaign, try to make a thematic specialist, etc. It’s a minor thing, but with it, this would pretty much have covered all I could have asked of it. Hence, my final verdict will clock in at 5 stars, just short of my seal of approval.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series: Cleric/Oracle Spells Compiled (3pp+PRD)
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Echelon Reference Series: Clerics (3pp+PRD)
Publisher: Echelon Game Design
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2017 04:14:32

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This colossal reference-book clocks in at 542 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 2 pages of ToC, 9 pages of SRD, 1 page echelon reference dashboard, 1 page back cover, leaving us with a staggering 527 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

This review was moved up in my reviewing queue as a prioritized review at the request of my patreons.

So, first things first – this is a reference work and I will rate it as such. This book focuses on the cleric and my review is based on the iteration that is based on both PRD and 3pp-material from a wide array of different sources. After a brief introduction, we begin with the cleric at a glance, including class skills by attribute, class features and the like; Rite Publishing’s by now venerable Divine Channeler is also listed in such a way.

From these base classes, we move on to the archetypes – these are provided alphabetically, noting their respective sources under the header, making it pretty easy to determine sources for them at one glance. Now, the respective class features have their name, their header if you will, in brown bubbles, with the type of the ability noted for each of them – also, available at a glance in a rather efficient way of presenting the material at hand. In a similar register card-like protrusion atop the bubble, we also have notes for the level in question where the ability is first gained – this is particularly helpful when an ability like channel energy is only partially replaced – to take a random example: The evangelist gets channel energy at 3rd level, losing a few of the progression steps in favor of sermonic performance, so the class feature bubble notes a “3.”

Slightly odd when first reading such a book: Below each bubble is the source of the respective ability noted as well – but there’s a reason for this! On another note: While the rules-formatting of the book is really impressive for a tome of this size, I did encounter e.g. references to cure/inflict spells that are not italicized – cosmetic, but hey – I do have to complain at least a bit, right?

Now, if you want something with more of a go-play angle and considered the application of archetypes to a given class work, then you will really enjoy the next chapter – cleric archetype classes basically presents the cleric class with the archetype in question already applied; presentation adheres to the same principles as the base class-depiction – at a glance summary, full information, breakdown by class feature. Each new class/archetype combo begins on a new page, btw. – on one hand, this means that you’ll have a few pages with some serious blank space, but on a plus-side, you can save ink/toner when just printing out one class/Archetype-combo – this makes the section rather helpful, as far as I’m concerned. So yeah, for me, saving ink/toner trumps coping with a bit of white space.

It is also here that you’ll probably get why abilities note their sources: archetype class combos note sources for the base class as well as for the supplemental rules-material used in making the respective combination.

But what if you want to look up a cleric concept by class feature? Well, chapter 3 has you covered: It lists the class features alphabetically (with type and level) and then proceeds to sport the class name/cleric archetype that sports the feature below it in an extra bubble – this is really helpful, though it would have probably been even more helpful with internal hyperlinking to the respective archetype or archetype class-combo. When a class feature is modified, you’ll find the modifications under their own sub-bubble denoting the archetype in question, which is really neat.

Now, I really loved this in the Barbarian-installment, but both class features and feats have helpful feat/ability-chain diagrams illustrating connections – channel energy + domain, for example…and here, we have the extremely helpful hyperlinks once again, so yeah, maximum utility achieved. (it should be noted that class features from other classes are NOT included in the book and thus, not hyperlinked – but that was to be expected and should not be taken as criticism of the pdf!) And yes, when applicable, level bubbles are included here as well! And yes, e.g. the divine channeler gets his own flow-chart-style diagram!

Interesting, btw.: Not all content herein is drawn from external sources – there are some domains, for example, that reference Echelon Explorations: New Domains – a book not available/released as per the writing of this review; this references the concept of hybrid domains, which is intriguing enough, though, as a minor nitpick, the second such example hybrid featured is missing the “1” in the first-level spell notation of domain spells gained and said domaijn also lacks the level-bubbles for the class abilities gained; not a big hassle, since the information is still within the text itself, but still worth mentioning.

Subdomains are provided with the base domain noted behind “/” in the header, which, once again, is useful; it would be even more useful, however, if the specifically noted parent domain had been internally hyperlinked – something that btw. also holds true for the exalted domains featured herein and their respective subdomains. Parent-domains listing and linking their subdomains with hyperlinks would have also imho improved how easily and quickly this chapter can be used.

The pdf also features variant channeling, with each of the entries listing both heal and harm options for your convenience; however, once again, the variant channeling options have not been hyperlinked to switch between the respective domain and its variant channeling – while I am a big proponent of the variant channeling having its own chapter, from a comfort point of view, internal switching between the two would have made sense to me.

In the section covering feats, we have some serious comfort, though. The book goes above and beyond, with feat-chain diagrams/flow-charts and feats noting domain channeling, when appropriate, in the appropriate bubbles. The book also contains a massive spell-list (though not the spells themselves – they have their own reference-installment) and the pdf moves on to a massive array of diverse NPCs for various CRs – some of these do note the racial traits of the respective race, but not all of the builds come with this supplemental information. In some cases, multiple statblocks of the same NPC are provided for various levels – namely Delfina Ambrosi’s stats.

The massive pdf also features a huge index spanning no less than 24 pages that help finding the respective abilities, feats, etc. even quicker. Beyond these, there is a massive 3-pages index that notes the location of the helpful, aforementioned diagrams.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good and impressive for a tome of this size, though I did notice a couple of minor hiccups here and there. Layout adheres to an efficient two-column standard that is pretty printer-friendly. The pdf comes with excessive, nested bookmarks for your convenience and makes, combined with the indices, the navigation pretty simple. The pdf does feature a significant amount of internal hyperlinks, but not as many as I’d have liked.

Keith Davies’ massive reference book of cleric options is a great reference tome that helps collate a ton of information; it achieves its intended goal and makes for a well-made offering that should reduce the (electronic) book-keeping required at the table. It is a system-immanent issue that domains can’t be hyperlinked to spells (combining both books would exceed 1K pages!), but I was a bit disappointed to see the lack of internal hyperlinking between domains & subdomains – that would have added some seriously nice comfort beyond what’s already provided. The diagrams for the respective ability- and feat-chains make for a helpful offering, though.

As a whole, I really enjoyed this massive reference tome – we have a helpful tome here, though one that falls slightly short of some comfort it could have provided. Hence, my final verdict will represent that – to me, this is a 4.5-stars-pdf, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
Echelon Reference Series: Clerics (3pp+PRD)
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Four Horsemen Present: Hybrid Class - Possessed
Publisher: Rogue Genius Games
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2017 04:11:24

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This hybrid class clocks in at 14 pages, 1 page front cover, 1 page editorial, 1 page RSD, leaving us with 11 pages of content, so let’s take a look!

The possessed is a hybrid of medium and witch and gains. Chassis-wise, d8 HD, 4 + Int skills per level, proficiency with simple weapons, light armor and light shields (interesting differentiation that we don’t see often). Armor heavier than light imposes spell failure chance. The possessed casts arcane spells drawn from the custom spell-list of the class. The class is a full caster, gaining access to all 9 spell levels and casts spells spontaneously, with Charisma as governing spellcasting attribute. The class gets knacks at 1st level and receives ¾ BAB-progression as well as good Will-saves. In a minor complaint, the 20th level entry has a superfluous “+6” in the 20th level entry’s BAB-column. It should be noted that 4th level yields the protected vessel ability, which nets a +2 bonus to Fortitude saves and saving throw against possession effects and mind-affecting effects not related to possession, which increases by +1 at 8th level and every 4 levels thereafter.

3rd level provides a witch or shaman hex, but not those granted by shaman spirits. Shaman hexes with the same name as a witch hex similarly can’t be chosen – nice catches there. Hex saves are governed by Intelligence.

The possessed is very much defined by her patron spirit, which is chosen at first level. Patrons get a patron bonus that starts off at +1 and increases by +1 at 5th level and every 4 levels thereafter. The bonus also affects her favored spells and her favored hex. Which brings me to the whole possession angle: You see, the favored spells act very much like patron spells –one for every odd spell level. The patron’s favored hex is gained at 1st level and may only be used when the patron is in control, but the patron bonus is added to the level of the possessed to determine the effects and DC of the hex. Beneficial hexes instead extend their duration by patron bonus rounds.

What is that about this whole control angle? Well, a possessed may surrender her control of her body to the patron as a free action during her turn (nice catch!) to let the patron assume control – the patron has full access to the possessed’s spells and abilities and acts in the interests of its theme and host. The patron may seize control when threatened – upon failing a save, being critically hit or reduced to ½ maximum hit points or below, the character must succeed a Will save versus 10 + ½ class level + Charisma modifier to remain in control. Patrons cannot be good, but detect the possessed’s alignment and not that of the patron, which can provide some seriously cool roleplaying opportunities, baked right into the framework of the class. Whenever targeted by an anti-possession or dispel/suppression effect targets the possessed, as a full-round action or when becoming unconscious, the possessed regains control. While in control, the patron adds patron bonus to saves versus exorcism-like effects and the like.

Patrons also all provide a class skill for the possessed, with some offering choice between options. However, the mortal frame is not made to house potent patrons – after all, otherwise there’d be no mechanical incentive to not be under the patron’s sway. Thus, patrons assuming control comes with a detrimental factor – namely the so-called control curse: While under the control of the patron, the possessed suffers from a detrimental effect, which is governed by the patron in question…and these tend to be serious.

A total of 20 patrons are included in the deal, and the respective control curses tend to be serious: When you e.g. take a look at the Strength patron, you have a penalty of -2 to all mental ability-based checks and Will-saves. Death even prevents the replenishment of hit points via positive or negative energy (but explicitly NOT forms of hastened natural healing, just restorative energies!). Darkness partially blinds the possessed and makes her lose Dex-bonus to AC as well as a 20% miss chance for attacks with spells and weapons. So yes, patron-choice REALLY matters, much more than for the regular witch, and should be taken into consideration for the build from the get-go. HOWEVER, there is also an associated benefit while the patron is in control, beyond those mentioned before: You see, to take the example of darkness as a patron – it nets darkvision 60 ft. (+30 ft. if you already have darkvision), the patron bonus is applied to Perception and darkness spells and it also increases their DC to dispel. For the potent drawback of death, you get the patron bonus to Fortitude saves as well as CL checks made when casting necromancy spells.

Being possessed by the ethereal patron makes the possessed susceptible to attacks from material and ethereal plane, bit halves her damage output with weapons and spells that require an attack roll. On the plus-side for this serious drawback, we have patron bonus added to touch AC as a deflection bonus. Famine nets nonlethal damage each round, but also provides some serious skill bonuses – as a whole, the total packages of the respective patrons, i.e. favored hex, boosts via patron bonus, drawbacks and favored spell selection provide meaningful alternate play modes – and some of them are really interesting: Space, for example, makes diagonal movement count as 10 ft. as a the control curse. So yeah, I like these!

As a capstone, the class increases this bonus to +6 and chooses one spell and one hex as additional favored hex and spell, respectively – she does add the patron bonus to these even when not surrendering control.

9 new hexes are included in the pdf – and they include a befuddling hex (which should probably be mind-affecting)…and some cool tricks. Take body portal, for example, which allows for the movement through a creature’s body on a failed save – only space, mind you, not reach, but particularly when dealing with big critters, this can be a nice, tactical advantage. As a minor complaint: Condemnation has a typo – it should be “affected”, not effected – oh, and the effect? Fewer than 0 hit points means you instantly DIE. No save. Ouch. Dimming lights, seeing the ethereal (reducing concealment), stealing darkvision or low-light vision…some intriguing options here.

Conclusion: Editing and formatting are very good, I only noticed a few typo-level hiccups. Layout adheres to Rogue Genius Games’ two-column full-color standard and the pdf sports solid stock art. The pdf comes fully bookmarked for your convenience.

Steven T. Helt provides the most occult non-occult class I’ve seen so far. What do I mean by this? While billed as a medium/witch hybrid, its take on patrons changes them more into something akin to oracle-y options than medium spirits, at least in how the rules feel. That is not a bad thing, however, for the pdf does understand the design-tenets of occult classes – you see, we have baked in, meaningful play-modes and player agenda; we have roleplaying opportunities hardcoded into the class abilities and the actual playing experience is radically different from both medium and witch, providing a distinct, unique identity. It also plays and feels radically different from Purple Duck Games’ excellent Vessel hybrid, going a completely different way. Now I wished it came with FCOs or some more of these creative benefits and drawbacks, but oh well.

So yes, I do consider this to be a well-made, neat hybrid class well worth checking out. My final verdict will clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded up to 5.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[5 of 5 Stars!]
Four Horsemen Present: Hybrid Class - Possessed
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GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops I (SNE)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2017 04:09:05

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This compilation of Raging Swan Press' critically-acclaimed and well-received Village Backdrop-series is a massive 89 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 2 pages of editorial/foreword, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 81 pages of content - so let's get this on, shall we?

Okay, first things first: This is NOT the same book as Village Backdrops I for Pathfinder! Instead, we have a different compilation on our hands. This is evident pretty much from the get-go, with a different page-count – but also with a slightly different organization and villages featured. The book, for example, begins with a brief chapter that should provide a helpful guide for GMs and prospective designers alike to make compelling villages, going through the process step by step, often with random tables to roll for sample names, general events to flesh out, etc. More importantly, the book notes important aspects from industry to history to contemplate and can help a GM keep his/her focus while designing. From basics like conflicts, flavor etc. to tables to determine government, alignment, prominent features, industry, population, notable buildings, conflicts and secrets, to 100 sample village names, 20 generic events and even 20 traditions, we essentially get all the tools to create iconic villages on the fly. This section really helps cutting down preparation/design-time, so kudos!

Now, there are some old acquaintances from the PFRPG book in this one: Plague-riddled Ashford, for example – ravaged by the bubonic plague, it is not a nice place to visit and its depiction is nice…and in the system-neutral iteration, I can’t well complain about a lack of bubonic plague stats, now, can I? However, there is another aspect worth mentioning for OSR-purists: The respective fluff-only NPC-write-ups, designed to give you a general inkling of the power-level of the respective beings, do use e.g. “wizard” or “rogue” as the classes referenced – while most GMs/referees won’t mind, some may be annoyed by not using “magic-user” and “thief”, respectively. This may be cosmetic, but it is an instant where the pdf is inconsistent with itself – some entries do use “thief” instead, though “magic-user” is nowhere to be found herein.

Thornhill, White Moon Cove and Longbridge make for other villages that are shared by the 5e and PFRPG-iteration. Beyond these, however, other villages that have since been released for 5e have been included, like the really atmospheric Wellswood, with its easy access to the lightless realms…

From there, we move on to Black Wyvern (which is easily the most boring of Raging Swan’s pirate-centric villages, alas) and then to the aptly-named, amazing Bleakflat. Coldwater, with its weird, deformed populace and evocative Kingsfell. Lanthorn, with its eponymous magical lights can also be found – and would be as well a place as any to note that, while it does sport a market place section, not all villages have one. Similarly, the magical lanterns that lend this place its unique flair could have used some mechanics or at least guidelines, as far as I’m concerned – the conversion of the crunchier bits falls by the wayside here and there…though e.g. the magical drugs in Suurin are properly covered and get some neat OSR-rules. Extra-kudos there!

Even then, the pdf has some real gems to offer – like Mike Welham’s rather amazing village of kinda friendly undead…oh, yeah, there’s this nasty curse-thingy going on…never mind that, all right? ;) Kidding aside, oddly, this one doesn’t get a marketplace section either. If you require a more in-depth break-down of the villages in question, please consult my individual reviews for their installments.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good – I noticed no undue accumulation of hiccups. Layout adheres to a neat two-column b/w-standard that is easy on the eyes and printer-friendly. The pdf sports an impressive array of great b/w-artwork and the cartography provided for the respective villages is amazing. As a pdf, the book comes in two versions, with one being particularly printer-friendly and one optimized for screen-use. The pdfs come fully bookmarked for your convenience. I cannot comment on the print version, since I do not own it.

Creighton Broadhurst, Richard Green, Marc Radle, Jeff Gomez and Mike Welham are all talented writers – that much is evident at first glance when reading the intriguing villages collected in this compilation. The villages, in short, adhere to Raging Swan Press’s high quality standards and all have several unique angles to use in the game. The system neutral version has the advantage of me not being able to criticize inconsistencies among marketplace sections and lack of crunchy bits, sure – but the minor nomenclature inconsistencies, already present in the constituent files, could easily have been purged or at least unified.

Don’t get me wrong – this is a great collection of evocative villages, but at the same time, it feels like it could have used a final, unifying pass t make sure that the minor hiccups have all been purged. This does not make this compilation anything less than inspiring, sure, but it remains a nagging hiccup that irks me more than it probably should. If you liked what I had to say about the respective, formidable villages, but haven’t gotten them yet, then consider this to be a must-own book. If you have them already and hoped for a final improvement for the print-compilation, though – well, then you may end up disappointed at a very high level. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, rounded down for the purpose of this platform.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops I (SNE)
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the review, old chum. I'm glad you liked the compilation, but sad we didn't knock it out of the park this time. Thanks again!
GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops I (5e)
Publisher: Raging Swan Press
by Thilo G. [Featured Reviewer]
Date Added: 08/23/2017 04:06:38

An Endzeitgeist.com review

This compilation of Raging Swan Press' critically-acclaimed and well-received Village Backdrop-series is a massive 89 pages long, 1 page front cover, 2 pages of advertisement, 2 pages of editorial/foreword, 1 page ToC, 1 page SRD and 1 page back cover, leaving us with 81 pages of content - so let's get this on, shall we?

Okay, first things first: This is NOT the same book as Village Backdrops I for Pathfinder! Instead, we have a different compilation on our hands. This is evident pretty much from the get-go, with a different page-count – but also with a slightly different organization and villages featured. The book, for example, begins with a brief chapter that should provide a helpful guide for GMs and prospective designers alike to make compelling villages, going through the process step by step, often with random tables to roll for sample names, general events to flesh out, etc. More importantly, the book notes important aspects from industry to history to contemplate and can help a GM keep his/her focus while designing. From basics like conflicts, flavor etc. to tables to determine government, alignment, prominent features, industry, population, notable buildings, conflicts and secrets, to 100 sample village names, 20 generic events and even 20 traditions, we essentially get all the tools to create iconic villages on the fly. This section really helps cutting down preparation/design-time, so kudos!

Now, there are some old acquaintances from the PFRPG book in this one: Plague-riddled Ashford, for example – ravaged by the bubonic plague, it is not a nice place to visit and its depiction is nice…though I do wish the pdf had included 5e-stats for the bubonic plague that’s ravaging the place. Thornhill, White Moon Cove and Longbridge make for other villages that are shared by the 5e and PFRPG-iteration. Beyond these, however, other villages that have since been released for 5e have been included, like the really atmospheric Wellswood, with its easy access to the lightless realms…

From there, we move on to Black Wyvern (which is easily the most boring of Raging Swan’s pirate-centric villages, alas) and then to the aptly-named, amazing Bleakflat. Coldwater, with its weird, deformed populace and evocative Kingsfell. Lanthorn, with its eponymous magical lights can also be found – and would be as well a place as any to note that, while it does sport a market place section, not all villages have one. Similarly, the magical lanterns that lend this place its unique flair could have used some mechanics, as far as I’m concerned – the conversion of the crunchier bits falls by the wayside here and there…though e.g. the magical drugs in Suurin are properly covered.

Even then, the pdf has some real gems to offer – like Mike Welham’s rather amazing village of kinda friendly undead…oh, yeah, there’s this nasty curse-thingy going on…never mind that, all right? ;) Kidding aside, oddly, this one doesn’t get a marketplace section either. If you require a more in-depth break-down of the villages in question, please consult my individual reviews for their installments.

Conclusion:

Editing and formatting are very good – I noticed no undue accumulation of hiccups. Layout adheres to a neat two-column B/w-standard that is easy on the eyes and printer-friendly. The pdf sports an impressive array of great b/w-artwork and the cartography provided for the respective villages is amazing. As a pdf, the book comes in two versions, with one being particularly printer-friendly and one optimized for screen-use. The pdfs come fully bookmarked for your convenience. I cannot comment on the print version, since I do not own it.

Creighton Broadhurst, Richard Green, Marc Radle, Jeff Gomez and Mike Welham are all talented writers – that much is evident at first glance when reading the intriguing villages collected in this compilation. The villages, in short, adhere to Raging Swan Press’s high quality standards and all have several unique angles to use in the game. That being said, I am not 100% satisfied with the 5e-conversions in all of them – the missing plague, for example, and the inconsistent supplemental material provided can make for valid reasons to complain against this compilation – basically, the weaker aspects of the original files have not been overhauled for this. That being said, this is still a more than worthy offering; there is a lot of amazing gaming material herein. My final verdict will hence clock in at 4.5 stars, though I feel I have to round down for this one.

Endzeitgeist out.



Rating:
[4 of 5 Stars!]
GM's Miscellany: Village Backdrops I (5e)
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Publisher Reply:
Thanks for the review, old chum. I'm glad you liked the compilation, but sad we didn't knock it out of the park this time. Thanks again!
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